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Heritage Marker SB10 - From Steam Trams to Trolleybuses
Learn more about Chinatown's rich history by visiting our Heritage Markers. Installed at places of historical significance around Chinatown, each plaque provides a short history of the location in three languages - English, Simplified Chinese and Japanese.

The first steam tram in Singapore ran through South Bridge Road in 1886. The road got its name as it ran south from the Elgin Bridge over the Singapore River. The steam tram was the settlement's first form of public transport. These double-decker trams had the top deck open, and passengers sat in the full glare of the sun. Smoke and steam hissed from the top of the tram, an unwelcome addition to the crowded and dirty streets. Fuel costs were high and overheads were heavy. Needless to say, steam trams did not prove popular with the public. Moreover, with the rickshaw as a cheaper, more convenient and more readily available mode of transport, steam trams fell quickly into decline. Within a year of their launch, they ground to a halt. It was not until 1905 that trams made their next appearance, this time fuelled by electricity. But they were still unable to rival the hugely successful rickshaw, despite having comfortable first-class seats. Eventually, electric trams too ceased to operate, and the tram company closed down.

To meet the ever-pressing need for reliable public transport, trolleybuses were introduced in 1925. They fared better than the trams, and continued to be used until World War II.
address
South Bridge Road
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